It’s not a common post on social media, but I have seen the question above posed as recently as yesterday. Despite unveiling five new faces last week some fan are still itchy about the coming season.
Twenty years ago this wouldn’t have happened. Anyone popping by training wouldn’t be able to start putting pictures on social media for fans to start pouring over. If they wanted to they’d have to fill up their 24 exposure film, run to Boots, get it processed in the hour and then photocopy it and post it to everyone they knew. Now they wander past the barracks, snap a phone shot and ‘boom’, it’s there for us all to see.
Also the constant chatter about who we may or may not be signing feeds the worry as well. There had been much talk about us going in for Ade Azeez from Partick Thistle, so when he appeared last night in a Cambridge shirt tongues started wagging. Have we missed out on another player? Is pre-season not going according to plan?
People like myself don’t help either, do we? Even if a post names Jordan Maguire-Drew (pictured above) as training with the club, some people may miss it. That’s where I come in, or Vitals come in. We seize on the post and construct an article around it, and before you know it fans assume he’s definitely going to sign. When no news is forthcoming, they panic.
There is a really good reason we haven’t signed the players we have on trial, and that is because they are on trial. We haven’t played a friendly yet, we haven’t kicked a ball in anger and so we haven’t had a chance to see if these players are up to it. Why would you have a player train for a week or two and sign him without a second thought? I wouldn’t trust a manager that did that, I’d be concerned he didn’t understand the concept of a trial.
Whilst fans of clubs like Mansfield are delighted all their business has been done early, you do have to question how thorough a process they’ve undertaken to bring these players in. There’s nobody on trial at Mansfield, and I don’t doubt that a couple of the players are barely known to Steve Evans. He signed Omari Sterling-James last week after confessing ‘I’ve seen him once’. Seen him once? Really? I’m sorry but you don’t get success by watching a player once. I imagine before we signed Elliott Whitehouse he was watched constantly, both on video and in person. I wouldn’t be surprised if Danny installed a camera in the lads house so he could break down his sleeping patterns. That is proper research, and that is how we do our business.
Has the reality of Football League pre-season caught Danny and Nicky out? Perhaps. Perhaps they weren’t quite ready for the insane demands of average players, perhaps they thought the likes of Jordan Williams would be happy to step up and learn over a desire to earn more money. I’m not saying that is the case, but don’t forget this is their first ever pre-season as Football League managers. It’s the first pre-season where they’ve had what could be considered a strong budget to draw from, and yet they’re being frugal and careful. Is that such a bad thing? We have had years with no money, would you really want it frittering away on a trial player they’ve seen in training for a couple of weeks?
Football management doesn’t work in the way we think it does, and it doesn’t work in the way Eidos Interactive want you to think either. Deals are agreed and reneged on by both player and manager. Deals are agreed and put on the back burner to see if anything better comes along too. Remember the clamour for James Caton to sign last season? I do, I was one of the voices shouting loudest. What actually happened? Caton didn’t sign, Nathan Arnold did. I liked James Caton, but was he anywhere near the class of Nathan? Of course not.
We had another player on trial last year as well, Jonny Margetts. He only signed after two or three friendlies, when Danny and Nicky knew he fitted into their pattern of play. In my opinion the trial players are ones that perhaps they haven’t scouted as in-depth last season, players they may not have seen an awful lot of. Given their tenacity and thorough scouting system, are they going to risk spending money on players they don’t know 100% will fit in?
Take Matt Green, we went in for him last year and the deal didn’t get over the line. That means he has been scouted, spoken to and is well-known to our managers. That is why a player such as him can come in without being on trial first. Now if a young player has joined up from a Championship club and his outings have been restricted, how ae they going to assess him properly? They’re going to do it by playing him in a friendly or two and seeing how he does. They did it with James Caton, they did it with Jonny Margetts and they’ll do it with whichever player was barely visible on Rob Makepeace’s photograph this morning.
If you’re on trial it means you’re under assessment, and anyone that believes our managers will waste on opportunity to look t someone properly by signing them based on a whim is going to be surprised. I’m not sure too many fans truly believe they’d be so rash with their budget, but there’s always a couple who do. I hope this clears things up for you.